Invasive species affect Canada’s economy in many ways, both directly and indirectly. Direct economic impacts caused by invasive species arise from costs such as, research, control and management programs, reduction of economically important resources and crop yield, and impacts on international trade and tariffs. However, much of this data is not available, and many of these impacts are not assessed. Indirect economic impacts can be much more challenging to quantify, and in some cases, hold a greater weight than direct impacts. Examples of indirect economic impacts include loss of ecosystem services (the ways that the environment benefits humans), changes in natural habitats, decrease of biodiversity, and social impacts. Due to the difficulty in assessing both the direct and indirect impacts of invasive species, estimates of economic impact vary widely.
Economic loss, due to invasive species in Canada, can be calculated from available data on control costs, reduced yield and land value, trade bans, landowner compensation, health-care costs, and reduced revenue from tourism. The costs associated with ten species, which invade the Canadian fishing, forestry, and agriculture industries, totaled $187 million per year1. However, this number does not include costs of ‘one time events’ such as localized emerald ash borer treatments.
There is also an ‘invisible tax’ due to invasive species that is caused by the reduced production of resources. This decrease due to invasions applies to forestry, fisheries, and agriculture. When the ‘invisible tax’ is incorporated, the cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion per year1. Similarly, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) estimates the annual impact of invasive species to be $30 billion ($20 billion in the forest sector, $7 billion for aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes, and $2.2 billion for invasive plants in the agricultural sector)2. It saves money in the long run to invest in prevention efforts when dealing with invasive species, rather than paying the extensive costs associated with management after arrival and establishment.
1Colautti, R. I., Bailey, S. A., van Overdijk, C. D., Amundsen,
K., & MacIsaac, H. J. (2006). Characterised and projected costs
of nonindigenous species in Canada. Biological Invasions, 8(1),